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DA: Councilman did nothing wrong

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Snellville councilman broke no criminal laws when he signed up to run for office and vote, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said Friday.

At issue was whether Councilman Robert Jenkins knowingly gave county election officials a false home address.

"I finished my review of it and I've notified his attorney and the complainant that I did not find any evidence of criminal intent and that I am closing the investigation," Porter said.

Porter's office began the investigation a few weeks ago after a citizen, who is also a political foe of Jenkins, complained that Jenkins made false statements when filling out paperwork so he could vote and run for office.

Jenkins used his ex-wife's Ridgedale Drive home address, although they had divorced and he had moved to another spot in the city.

Because nothing would have kept Jenkins from voting or seeking office had he used the newer address on Sussex Court, he had nothing to gain by giving elections officials his ex-wife's address, Porter said.

Since Jenkins did not stand to benefit from claiming Ridgedale Drive as his residence, then he had no criminal intent, which means no criminal law was broken, Porter said.

"Basically what you're looking for is, did someone make a false statement to benefit themselves," Porter said. "In this case there really is no benefit to the false statement."

Jenkins' attorney, Mike Puglise, said his client did nothing underhanded and never intended to mislead anyone.

"Mr. Jenkins appreciates the district attorney's effort in resolving the citizen complaint against him," Puglise said. "The district attorney did his job and has concluded that there was absolutely no criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Jenkins."

Joe Anderson, a former Snellville councilman who lodged the complaint, said he had not been notified of the district attorney's decision.

"I can say that I believe I did the right thing reporting to the proper authorities what appeared to be violation of state laws regarding providing accurate domicile information on a sworn voter's certification," Anderson said in an e-mailed statement.

The county Board of Registrations and Elections studied the same matter in November after Anderson filed a complaint with it while Jenkins was running for office.

At that time, Anderson claimed Jenkins was ineligible to vote or seek office because he had failed to change his home address after he got a divorce in 2004 and moved from a house he shared with his wife on Ridgedale Drive.

Shortly before the elections board was to hear the matter, Jenkins changed the home address on his voter registration to Sussex Court.

The elections board said Jenkins was qualified to vote and could therefore run for office.

The district attorney's office looked at the same issues, but instead of deciding whether Jenkins has his paperwork in order so he can vote, it looked for criminal violations.

Puglise said under state law, the house occupied by Jenkins' ex-wife qualified as Jenkins' domicile for voting and election purposes since he still got mail there and did maintenance work on the property.